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Images: Pioneering wave energy machine returns to Orkney after successful tests

© Supplied by Moceanwave energy machine orkney
The innovative prototype began its test phase in mid-June and, since then, has completed 154 days at sea.

Scottish firm Mocean Energy’s wave energy machine has returned to dock after a successful five-month test period at sea.

In the last few days, the 20-metre long, 38-tonne device, called called Blue X, has been towed from the European Marine Energy Centre’s (EMEC) Scapa Flow test site to Kirkwall.

It was then lifted onto Hatston Pier, where it will be cleaned, inspected, and maintained until next year’s testing programme kick off.

The innovative 10 kilowatt (kW) prototype began its test phase in mid-June and, since then, has completed 154 days at sea.

During that time it has delivered steady outputs of up to 5 kW and safe instantaneous peaks of 30 kW, operating in sea states up to 2.3 meters maximum wave height.

Cameron McNatt, Mocean managing director, said: “This has been an immensely valuable period where we have been able to understand how our machine operates in real sea conditions and gain practical experience in operations including towing, installation, removal, and access at sea.

“We’ve been able to unmoor, tow and moor the machine multiple times, trial the use of solar panels on deck, send commands from shore, test power production and compare our results against our numerical predictions.

“This has given us tremendous confidence in our design – both in its ability to capture wave energy effectively, and also the way in which it dives below the biggest waves, enabling it to shed the heaviest loads.

“Of course, we have been able to rely on the expertise of a number of partners and subcontractors and would like to thank Wave Energy Scotland, EMEC, Blackfish, Leask Marine, the University of Edinburgh and Supply Design, plus many other individuals and companies who have helped us on our way.”

Next year, Mocean, which recently opened an office in Aberdeen, plans to put the device to sea in Orkney again and to hook it up to a subsea battery.

The stored energy will be used to power a remotely operated autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), with potential for the system to be used in oil and gas offshore operators.

The deployment and demonstration of the Blue X at EMEC has been funded by Wave Energy Scotland and supported by Interreg North-West Europe’s Ocean DEMO project.

Tim Hurst, MD of Wave Energy Scotland said: “It is only through testing technologies at sea that we can demonstrate the real potential for wave energy to make a significant contribution to the world’s ever-growing green energy demands.

“The success of Mocean Energy underscores the merits of Wave Energy Scotland’s stage gate selection process which has fostered a collaborative cross-industry approach from day one.

“In the years ahead, we will see Mocean Energy scale up its wave energy convertors to produce future technologies with potential to help decarbonise the oil and gas sector and deliver grid-scale electricity.

“At this moment, the UK Government is actively considering implementing a ring-fenced market support mechanism for marine energy, which could enable Britain’s wave and tidal sector to take a global lead.

“Post-COP, it is vital Britain puts a ring-fence in place and uses every lever it can to support home-grown technologies which can create a net zero future.”

The Blue X manufacture and testing programme has been supported by £3.3 million from Wave Energy Scotland (WES), through their Novel Wave Energy Converter programme.

Earlier this year, Mocean announced a £1.6 million project with NZTC, oil major Harbour Energy and subsea specialists EC-OG and Modus to demonstrate the potential of the Blue X prototype to power a subsea battery and a remote underwater vehicle.

The wave machine was fabricated in Scotland, with hardware and services supplied by numerous companies.

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